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38 Publications

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    Baker Lab
    07/21/05 | Male-specific fruitless specifies the neural substrates of Drosophila courtship behaviour.
    Manoli DS, Foss M, Villella A, Taylor BJ, Hall JC, Baker BS
    Nature. 2005 Jul 21;436(7049):395-400. doi: 10.1038/nature03859

    Robust innate behaviours are attractive systems for genetically dissecting how environmental cues are perceived and integrated to generate complex behaviours. During courtship, Drosophila males engage in a series of innate, stereotyped behaviours that are coordinated by specific sensory cues. However, little is known about the specific neural substrates mediating this complex behavioural programme. Genetic, developmental and behavioural studies have shown that the fruitless (fru) gene encodes a set of male-specific transcription factors (FruM) that act to establish the potential for courtship in Drosophila. FruM proteins are expressed in approximately 2% of central nervous system neurons, at least one subset of which coordinates the component behaviours of courtship. Here we have inserted the yeast GAL4 gene into the fru locus by homologous recombination and show that (1) FruM is expressed in subsets of all peripheral sensory systems previously implicated in courtship, (2) inhibition of FruM function in olfactory system components reduces olfactory-dependent changes in courtship behaviour, (3) transient inactivation of all FruM-expressing neurons abolishes courtship behaviour, with no other gross changes in general behaviour, and (4) ’masculinization’ of FruM-expressing neurons in females is largely sufficient to confer male courtship behaviour. Together, these data demonstrate that FruM proteins specify the neural substrates of male courtship.

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    Baker Lab
    11/01/04 | X chromosome sites autonomously recruit the dosage compensation complex in Drosophila males.
    Fagegaltier D, Baker BS
    PLoS Biology. 2004 Nov;2(11):e341. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0020341

    It has been proposed that dosage compensation in Drosophila males occurs by binding of two core proteins, MSL-1 and MSL-2, to a set of 35-40 X chromosome "entry sites" that serve to nucleate mature complexes, termed compensasomes, which then spread to neighboring sequences to double expression of most X-linked genes. Here we show that any piece of the X chromosome with which compensasomes are associated in wild-type displays a normal pattern of compensasome binding when inserted into an autosome, independently of the presence of an entry site. Furthermore, in chromosomal rearrangements in which a piece of X chromosome is inserted into an autosome, or a piece of autosome is translocated to the X chromosome, we do not observe spreading of compensasomes to regions of autosomes that have been juxtaposed to X chromosomal material. Taken together these results suggest that spreading is not involved in dosage compensation and that nothing distinguishes an entry site from the other X chromosome sites occupied by compensasomes beyond their relative affinities for compensasomes. We propose a new model in which the distribution of compensasomes along the X chromosome is achieved according to the hierarchical affinities of individual binding sites.

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    Baker Lab
    01/01/02 | A genomic analysis of gene expresson during the Drosophila life cycle.
    Baker B, Arbeitman M, Furlong E, Imam F, Johnson E, Null B
    Science. 2002:2270-75
    Baker Lab
    04/06/01 | Are complex behaviors specified by dedicated regularoty genes? Reasoning from Drosophila.
    Baker B, Taylor B, Hall JC
    Cell. 2001 Apr 6;105(1):13-24
    Baker Lab

    In Drosophila, dosage compensation occurs by increasing the transcription of the single male X chromosome. Four trans-acting factors encoded by the male-specific lethal genes are required for this process. Dosage compensation is restricted to males by the splicing regulator Sex-lethal, which functions to prevent the production of the MSL-2 protein in females by an unknown mechanism. In this report, we provide evidence that Sex-lethal acts synergistically through sequences in both the 5' and 3' untranslated regions of MSL-2 to mediate repression. We also provide evidence that the repression of MSL-2 is directly regulated by Sex-lethal at the level of translation.

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    Baker Lab
    12/13/96 | Control of male sexual behavior and sexual orientation in Drosophila by the fruitless gene.
    Baker B, Ryner L, Goodwin S, Castrillon D, Anand A, Villella A, Hall J, Taylor B, Wasserman S
    Cell. 1996 Dec 13;87(6):1079-89

    Sexual orientation and courtship behavior in Drosophila are regulated by fruitless (fru), the first gene in a branch of the sex-determination hierarchy functioning specifically in the central nervous system (CNS). The phenotypes of new fru mutants encompass nearly all aspects of male sexual behavior. Alternative splicing of fru transcripts produces sex-specific proteins belonging to the BTB-ZF family of transcriptional regulators. The sex-specific fru products are produced in only about 500 of the 10(5) neurons that comprise the CNS. The properties of neurons expressing these fru products suggest that fru specifies the fates or activities of neurons that carry out higher order control functions to elicit and coordinate the activities comprising male courtship behavior.

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    Baker Lab
    09/12/96 | The dosage compensation system of Drosophila is co-opted by newly evolved X chromosomes.
    Marin I, Franke A, Bashaw GJ, Baker BS
    Nature. 1996 Sep 12;383(6596):160-3. doi: 10.1038/383160a0

    In species where males and females differ in number of sex chromosomes, the expression of sex-linked genes is equalized by a process known as dosage compensation. In Drosophila melanogaster, dosage compensation is mediated by the binding of the products of the male-specific lethal (msl) genes to the single male X chromosome. Here we report that the sex- and chromosome-specific binding of three of the msl proteins (MSLs) occurs in other drosophilid species, spanning four genera. Moreover, we show that MSL binding correlates with the evolution of the sex chromosomes: in species that have acquired a second X chromosome arm because of an X-autosome translocation, we observe binding of the MSLs to the 'new' (previously autosomal) arm of the X chromosome, only when its homologue has degenerated. Moreover, in Drosophila miranda, a Y-autosome translocation has produced a new X chromosome (called neo-X), only some regions of which are dosage compensated. In this neo-X chromosome, the pattern of MSL binding correlates with the known pattern of dosage compensation.

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    Baker Lab

    In Drosophila dosage compensation increases the rate of transcription of the male's X chromosome and depends on four autosomal male-specific lethal genes. We have cloned the msl-2 gene and shown that MSL-2 protein is co-localized with the other three MSL proteins at hundreds of sites along the male polytene X chromosome and that this binding requires the other three MSL proteins. msl-2 encodes a protein with a putative DNA-binding domain: the RING finger. MSL-2 protein is not produced in females and sequences in both the 5' and 3' UTRs are important for this sex-specific regulation. Furthermore, msl-2 pre-mRNA is alternatively spliced in a Sex-lethal-dependent fashion in its 5' UTR.

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    Baker Lab
    01/01/94 | Behavioral and neurobiological implications of sex-determining factors in Drosophila.
    Baker B, Taylor B, Villella. A. , Ryner L, Hall J
    Developmental. Genetics. 1994;15(3):275-96

    The function of the central nervous system as it controls sex-specific behaviors in Drosophila has been studied with renewed intensity, in the context of genetic factors that influence the development of sexually differentiated aspects of this insect. Three categories of genetic variations that cause anomalies in courtship and mating behaviors are discussed: (1) mutants isolated with regard to courtship defects, of which putatively courtship-specific variants such as the fruitless mutant are a subset; (2) general behavioral and neurological variants (including sensory and learning mutants), whose defects include subnormal reproductive performance; and (3) mutations of genes within the sex-determination regulatory hierarchy of Drosophila, the analysis of which has included studies of reproductive behavior. Recent studies of mutations in two of these categories have provided new insights into the control of neuronally based aspects of sex-specific behavior. The doublesex gene, the final factor acting in the sex-determination hierarchy, had been previously thought to regulate all aspects of sexual differentiation. Yet, it has been recently shown that doublesex does not control at least one neuronally-determined feature of sex-specific anatomy--a muscle in the male's abdomen, whose normal development is, however, dependent on the action of fruitless. These considerations prompted us to examine further (and in some cases re-examine) the influences exerted by sex-determination hierarchy genes on behavior. Our results--notably those obtained from assessments of doublesex mutations' effects on general reproductive actions and on a particular component of the courtship sequence (male "singing" behavior)--lead to the suggestion that there is a previously unrecognized branch within the sex-determination hierarchy, which controls the differentiation of the male- and female- specific phenotypes of Drosophila. This new branch separates from the doublesex-related one immediately before the action of that gene (just after transformer and transformer-2) and appears to control as least some aspects of neuronally determined sexual differentiation of males.

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    Baker Lab
    11/01/93 | Sex-lethal, master and slave: the hierarchy of germline sex determination in Drosophila.
    Baker B, Oliver B, Kim YJ
    Development. 1993 Nov;119(3):897-908

    Female sex determination in the germ line of Drosophila melanogaster is regulated by genes functioning in the soma as well as genes that function within the germ line. Genes known or suspected to be involved in germ-line sex determination in Drosophila melanogaster have been examined to determine if they are required upstream or downstream of Sex-lethal+, a known germ-line sex determination gene. Seven genes required for female-specific splicing of germ-line Sex-lethal+ pre-mRNA are identified. These results together with information about the tissues in which these genes function and whether they control sex determination and viability or just sex determination in the germ line have been used to deduce the genetic hierarchy regulating female germ-line sex determination. This hierarchy includes the somatic sex determination genes transformer+, transformer-2+ and doublesex+ (and by inference Sex-lethal+), which control a somatic signal required for female germ-line sex determination, and the germ-line ovarian tumor genes fused+, ovarian tumor+, ovo+, sans fille+, and Sex-lethal+, which are involved in either the reception or interpretation of this somatic sex determination signal. The fused+, ovarian tumor+, ovo+ and sans fille+ genes function upstream of Sex-lethal+ in the germ line.

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